One of the cat’s charms is her playfulness. She entertains us with her antics. Cats are easily the most entertaining of all animals according to the popularity of cat videos and photos on the Internet. Sometimes your cat will try to engage you in play. A kitten will leap from a perch and cling to your leg or back with her claws. She might bat at your hand as you type or attack your pony tail, necklace, or (ouch) earrings. Lily still likes to “help” me tie my walking shoes. Or is she trying to prevent me from doing so, hoping I’ll stay home.
There are a multitude of toys on the market for cats. Our cats have a basket-full of tiny stuffed animals, balls, kickers, and other toys. But their favorite toys are more interactive. They love it when we grab one of their wand toys and start wiggling it around for them to chase.
I heard once that you should use your hand for petting, not for a toy. How tempting is it to wriggle your fingers to entice a kitten to play? When the kitten is in your lap, you delight in tickling his tummy and you get a kick out of it when he attacks your hand and begins biting and kicking it. This is also a good way to get scratched or bitten.
So what is recommended for kitten or cat play? A wand toy. You see them in pet stores and even the pet section of your grocery store. I prefer the wand with feathers attached at the end or some other do-dad that’s enticing to a cat. There are some with furry attachments. Cats like these, too. The wand toys I do not like are those with strings attached—a string with an object at the end, for example.
Someone gave us one with a fish on the end of the string as an adoption gift when we brought Sophie home. The first time we exposed her to it, the already skittish feral kitten leaped and got tangled in the string. It frightened her and was kind of a setback in her adjustment here. We got rid of that toy immediately, but find that the wand toys without string are great for cat play.
Here’s a site with ideas for how to play with your cat. Basically, they recommend regular play time. I remember when Max was a growing kitten, every evening before bedtime, he and I would play catch with a soft plastic ball. Often, he’d bat it back to me, so it really became a game of catch.
It is recommended that you play with your cat for ten minutes each day. It’s good for the cat on many levels. Indoor cats, especially, need prompted exercise. Positive interaction between a cat and her human is bonding and good practice on many levels. But it’s important that you use this play time to everyone’s benefit. For example, if you don’t allow the cat to catch the “prey” once in a while (get his paws on the toy you’re wriggling in front of him), he will soon tire of your stupid game. Here are some additional tips.